Thursday, August 9, 2012

Not Gonna Sugar Coat

I read somewhere (don't remember, forgot to link it) that we, as Christians, should write nice things about marriage and our spouses on our blogs.  But respectfully I disagree.  It's actually important to write about the nitty gritty.  Why?

1. Cinderella fairy tale-  I have two boys and I worry that they will feel pressure to be "knight's in shining armor" here to "rescue damsels in distress."  I've had a friend couple recently go through a messy divorce.  One of her reasons was she felt like he wasn't making her happy.  People, it's not the guy's job to make his wife happy.  It's not his job to intentionally make her unhappy, but nobody can make a person feel happiness.  You just can't.  I try all the time to make my husband happy and fail utterly.  He's just a perfectionist and is never satisfied.  It's frustrating.  My goal is to teach him to treat others differently than how he feels he needs to treat himself. 

To sugar coat my husband's views and say that it's okay helps no one.  I'm sure that people have had to deal with unreasonable demands: both to make a person happy and to have the other person make you feel happy.  All it serves it to make you scream and bang your head into a wall.

The only way to get around it is to teach the person what you would like them to do.  Men and women are not mind readers.  So I'm saying it loud and clear.  If I don't clean off the dining room table to your liking, Hubs, then you are more than welcome to from now on do it the way you want it done.  But don't complain later about how you want me do it because you do it all the time.  You can't have it both ways.  I am not Cinderella.

2.  Miss Independent- The other problem arises when people both women and men assert their independence within the relationship.  What your looking for is interdependence.

I once had a teacher that explained how wrong she got it with marriage.  She married a man who thought that after children and marriage life could go on as before.  He'd go out every night, get drunk with his drinking buddies, and slink home at 1 am.  He left her to tend to the house and the kids all on her own while working.  Isn't he just lovely?

Life changes when you get married.  Whether you have children or not, you are no longer solo.  You are now part of a couple.  That means you have to work together.  There no longer is an complete independence or dependence.  You have to rely on each other.

My male friend asked me how I felt now that I was dependent on my husband as a SAHM.  I looked at him funny.  All I could think of to say was that I have always been somewhat dependent.  Since we're human beings, social creatures, we rely on people.  We rely on a job to give us money and a place to use that money in order to buy goods and services.  So why are we suddenly completely independent?

This isn't to say we should become totally dependent to the point of it being abusive.  But if anything negative came from the second generation of feminism it's that we have to be independent and that being interdependent is so terrible.  And that's bunk.

My husband has difficulty with the working together part at times.  I'm ready to move past the stage of "I hate you you horrible person you" and to the stage of mutual agreement and seeking to learn how to treat the other person the way they need to be/ want to be treated.  But he's having trouble letting go of the ideal.

Things that you may find interesting:
We tend to also idealize our parents and their relationship.  The problem is our consistent memories of their relationship don't occur until around age 9 or 10 when they've ironed out most of the big things.  We bring this ideal to the relationship only to realize that our wife doesn't cook like our mom.  Our wife expects more of us than our dad did.  etc. etc.

All marriages are going to be different because all people are different and have different experiences.  My husband has trouble wrapping his head around my cooking style.  Just tonight for the second time he complained about the amount I cooked and the left overs we would have because he hates left overs.  As I explained, he just insulted my decision making skills over cooking.  He thought that he was simply pointing out how his mother does things.  But I'm not his mom.  Pretty?  I'd say not.

Also studies show that people who have children early in their marriages have better marriages.  It has something to do with ironing out couples things and then having another disruption when learning how to deal with children.  It's far easier to iron out both simultaneously.  This is contrary to the popular notion that newly weds need to get to know each other before having children.  That, as they say, should be ironed out pre-cana.

Furthermore the younger the couple is in age, the less likely they will divorce.  Maybe this has something to do with being more flexible the younger you are, and old fogies like Hubby and I have a hard time letting go of the independent solo lives that we built.  (okay maybe it's just Hubby.  I've pretty much given up everything.  Career.  check.  Hobbies of music.  Check.  Sleeping 14 hour day weekends.  check.  But I've adapted and picked up doing things that are a little more conducive like blogging and reading.)

My point:
Society has very unrealistic expectations about marriage.  Just scrolling through free Kindle books most of them are about romance either hot and sultry like reading porno or innocent flirtations or romantic conflicts ending in surprising twists or happily.  I don't read romance novels (outside of Jane Austen).  I don't like them.  But other than that they paint an unrealistic portrait of marriage.

Marriage is hard.  It's at times inconvenient.  It's having to sacrifice yourself over and over and over...and after a while, it does at times leave you unfulfilled, drained, and feeling utterly unloved.  That isn't pretty.

While I don't think you should go around insulting your husband online, it's completely adding to the romanticized and unrealistic version of a romance novel to not discuss the trying parts but rather sugar coat everything.

Why do I emphasize this?  Because when I was teaching confirmation classes, one of the girls started talking about marriage.  Her eyes lit up.  I mentioned maybe she is called to being a nun and she emphatically said no.  It was clear from our conversation that marriage was the way to go without her having any realistic idea of the difficulty of it.  (Not to say being a nun is easy either).  Not everyone is called to marriage.  But people try it on like trying on a pair of jeans at the store without worrying or committing to it.  Most divorces now end because the woman is unhappy because the marriage is not ideal.  Marriage has become a commodity not a commitment.

If we turn it around and say "sorry, it's not all a bed of roses all the time," then we give people particularly young naive people a better picture of what will happen.  Things won't come so much as a shock to them.  They'll be able to glean ideas for dealing with the less than stellar.  And then they can move past it to the real essence of marriage (which is what I'm trying to do but hear it takes at least 5 years after having your first baby.  I'm so looking forward to kindergarten.)

Also we give young people better alternatives to realize that having a relationship with a person may not be for them.  That being single or religious is perfectly okay too.

So I have to respectfully disagree.  It doesn't help people to ignore that marriage is trying at times.  It needs to be discussed.

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